Jump Start # 3251
2 Corinthians 6:10 “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.”
There are several sections in Corinthians that just hurt my heart. I hate to see the beloved Paul treated as he was.
· In 1 Cor 4 we read: “to this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless…we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.
· In 2 Cor 1: we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.
· In 2 Cor 4: we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted; but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
· In 2 Cor 6: in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger…regarded as deceivers, yet true; as unknown yet well-known…as sorrowful yet rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.
· In 2 Cor 7: we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without and fears within
· In 2 Cor 11: three times beaten with rods, five times received 39 lashes, stoned once, in dangers, many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food in cold and exposure
I just want to bring Paul home with me and let him spend the night. I wish I could take him some chicken and noodle soup. I wish I could do something to bless him. And, through all of this, his focus was upon helping others and his faith in the Lord remained true. He would suffer so others could benefit. Our verse expresses this with, “As poor yet making many rich.”
People are always interested in how to get rich. They want a quick, easy and painless way to do that. That’s what drives the lottery. From financial advisors to get-rich-quick schemes, people are wanting to find ways to become rich. Paul knew. It had nothing to do with money. It wasn’t about stock markets, buying up silver, investing in real estate or any other modern idea. It wasn’t about budgets, Dave Ramsey’s seven steps, or listening to financial podcasts.
A poor man made others rich. What an interesting concept.
First, we know from both the context and Paul’s life that the riches he refers to is not about money. It is about Jesus. Paul was poor when it came to the financial markets. The man who once knew prosperity now lived in poverty. Homeless, poorly clothed, hungry and thirsty is how we described himself. He wasn’t a guy on the street corner holding up a cardboard sign begging for money. Paul had a job. He was on a mission. Making others rich in Christ is what he was all about. Preaching didn’t make him wealthy. Preaching wasn’t a safe and nice job. Preaching was being in the lion’s den, on the front lines, yet changing lives. Through his work of spreading the Gospel of Christ, many were becoming saved. They were becoming rich spiritually. Heaven was their home. Their treasures were in the eternal. They found something that could not be taken away by others. They found something that would not lose it’s value over time. Rich in Christ, that’s what Paul had in mind. He chose to be poor so others could know Jesus. Rather than staying safe and comfortable, but put himself on the edge. Always hunted down. Always persecuted. He risked so others could know and others could be saved.
Second, I wonder if we truly appreciate what we have received in the Lord. Salvation involved the incredible sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We praise Him on Sunday, but as soon as the services end, our thoughts quickly turn to ball games, food, and things of this life. Things that will not last. Things that hold no value to Heaven. Have we taken for granted the incredible riches that are only in Christ? Do we understand how bankrupt we were before Christ? The blessed are the poor, which begins the beatitudes is not about third world countries. It is about you and I. It’s about those who realize how empty their hearts were and how miserable their lives were spiritually. It’s about those who understood only in Christ can I find true life and true riches.
Third, Paul understood the incredible gift in Christ. Over and over salvation is viewed as a gift of God. The Lord doesn’t owe us salvation. The Lord didn’t have to save us. What a wonderful and powerful demonstration of His love towards us. He became poor so that we could become rich. As poor, making others rich, is what Paul said in our verse today.
Paul was among the richest people on this planet. You’d never know it by his clothes. What he had in his house never showed it. No bank accounts would prove it. Yet, in Christ, he was Heaven bound. He found in the Lord what true wealth is.
Great reminders for us in a culture that is saturated with stuff and obsessed with image. The storeroom looks nice, but the warehouse is empty. So, true is that of so many lives. We easily can place too much emphasis upon the outside, while neglecting the inside.
I wonder what we’d think if Paul showed up at one of our congregations on a Sunday morning? Some might think he was a street bum. Some might ignore him because of his appearance. He may have smelled. It may have been a while since he ran a comb through his hair. Dirty, old clothes, would we pass him off as ignorant and not worthy of our time? I hope we would do better than that. I’d hope we’d give him a chance. More than that, I’d hope that we’d take him home and help him out.
That old apostle is sure enjoying the comforts of paradise today. Don’t let the riches and glitter of this life deceive you nor take your eyes off of the true riches in Christ.